Saturday, 21 July 2012

Life

The sadness of life is that everyone and everything passes away, to be forgotten, to be replaced by someone else; the young replace the old; new ways of doing things replace old ways of doing things; soon, we are living lives we never dreamed of.



We look for tradition, we hold onto it; we look for what is constant, but the only thing constant in life is change.  One minute we’re new, the next we’re teenagers, the next we’re adults; life moves on whether we want it to or not.



We all complain too much in the West, the rich countries; maybe this ‘credit-crunch’ is a time to take stock of what is really important in life; family and friends, faith, God, a roof over our heads and just a full fridge of food; maybe if we all counted our blessings now and again and were just grateful for the small comforts and small mercies in life, we would all stop clamouring and yearning for what we haven’t got.



Part of Christian living is to be content with what you have and not be carping and complaining about what you don’t have.  Of course, I’m not suggesting you accept wretched poverty or anything like that, no one should live in any kind of poverty, even if some people in the West sadly do.  No, I’m saying that most of us, neither rich nor wretchedly poor, should first count our blessings before we do anything else.  It’s not a cop-out to say that if a person is suffering serious poverty, the first thing they should do as a Christian is to pray for help and guidance.



The goodness of life is that we can all play our part, whoever we are.  And just because society can be hard and unyielding and can be tough on ‘failures’ and ‘losers’, someone like me in fact, God is ultimately merciful; He will hear you out and He will give you a second chance.



To say you fully understand life and all it means is to make yourself a liar because no one I think fully understands life and all its complications, but surely one of the most important things in life is to be happy.  I have struggled against depression, unhappiness, unemployment, disappointments and toxic friendships for chunks of my life; if anyone can talk about happiness and its value, then surely I can!



We need each other!  There, I’ve said it, the bloke who’s a Christian but doesn’t go to church!  If life is a big puzzle, and making sense of it certainly isn’t easy, then we all have a piece of that puzzle; together we can put the puzzle together and make sense of it all.



Years seem to fly by when you’re an adult; why is that?  Are we always expecting something that never comes?  When we were kids summer holidays seemed to go on forever; is this the eternity God promises us, not worrying about anything, but having childlike trust?  Is believing in God believing in a kind of magic, magic that for some of us we lose as we get older?  Maybe we need to look again at what we believe.



Remember the deeds performed by our ancestors, each in his generation, and you will win great honour and everlasting renown.

Was not Abraham tested and found faithful, was that not considered as justifying him?

Joseph in the time of his distress maintained the Law, and so became lord of Egypt.

Phinehas, our father, in return for his burning zeal, received the covenant of everlasting priesthood.

Joshua, for carrying out his task, became judge of Israel.

Caleb, for his testimony before the assembled people, received an inheritance in the land.

David for his generous heart inherited the throne of an everlasting kingdom.

Elijah for his consuming fervour for the Law was caught up to heaven itself.

Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael, for their fidelity, were saved from the flame.

Daniel for his singleness of heart was rescued from the lion’s jaws.

Know then that, generation after generation, no one who hopes in him will be overcome.

Do not fear the threats of the sinner, all his brave show must come to the dunghill and the worms.

Exalted today, tomorrow he is nowhere to be found, for he has returned to the dust he came from and his scheming is brought to nothing.  (1 Maccabees 2: 51-63 NJB)

23 comments:

  1. Hi Tim,
    Yes, we do have much to be grateful for by having food and a roof over our heads compared to many people.I have to say I still cannot understand why you call yourself a 'failure' and a 'loser', unless it is because you wanted to become a 'published' writer. You are a brilliant writer and if you wanted to I am sure that you could go down that road if you wanted to, particularly with the internet available for selling. Yes, life ( or life as we call it ) is like a puff of smoke, but the real life to follow is eternal when we believe on Jesus. Just think about going through a door to an eternal 'holiday'. The Bible tells us that 'eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor mind imagined what God has in store for those who love Him.' I also believe that in this life God will give us our heart's desire too if we ask Him. Look at yourself as an 'achiever' and as one who 'gains' in Christ, for He is able to do all things and cause us to be content with little or much.

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    1. Hi Brenda; I often call myself 'failure' and 'loser' because for one reason and another I haven't really succeeded at that much. I don't use it in a cruel sense and there is a kind of humour attached to it, although I would never call anyone else such a thing.

      Yes I agree with you, I am certain that God will give us good things in this life as well as the next life, we merely need to ask. I think I will start to see myself as an 'achiever' in Christ from now on, although I may still have a post or two addressing myself as a loser! But not for much longer I think.

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  2. Dear Tim,
    A very intereting blog. It is very true that the western culture is very materialistic. As a domestic window cleaner - over and over again, whenever someone has his front driveway re-paved, you can guarantee that others in the same street will follow suit! This keeping up with the Jones seem applicable to other things too, cars in particular. And so the rat race runs on in education, professions and wealth.
    In Christ I am whom I am. Sure, I failed at school, I held a labouring job throughout the whole of my working life (44 years) and I'm not a man of money. But I have Jesus Christ as my Saviour, and for me that is much more than anything this world can give me.
    It is worthwhile reading what Paul wrote to the Phillipian church, that despite his high education and qualifications to be a Pharisee, he counted all that as loss compared to the glory of knowing Jesus Christ as Saviour. In fact he counted all he had as rubbish (literally faeces, or poo) so that he can more of Jesus Christ (3:4-11.)
    Thank you for posting.
    By the way, is the snapshot above that of you?
    God bless, Frank.

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    1. Western culture is more about acquisition social status and who-owns-what than it is about Jesus and His coming Kingdom, that's for certain.

      You wrote: 'In Christ I am whom I am.' Frank, we should all remember that when we worry about what we haven't got. The world can give a kind of riches and security but as Paul found out, it is nothing if we can gain Christ and His riches.

      No, the photograph was from a website I came across! I do have a bit of stubble now and again though.

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  3. Hi TC.

    You should have said it was you - ugly mushes like this bunny would have died of jealousy!!

    The western world seems to have forgotten the value of hard work, that success, respect and money are by-products of it. We got greedy, wanted a quick buck and something for nothing.

    Put it this way - while manufacturing has shrunk to the point where we'll be importing the air we breathe before long, the 'no win, no fee' compensation industry flowered like nothing before it.

    I really do not think that was an accident...

    In short, we lost the connection between work and wealth.

    I believe that God has nothing against material wealth per se, as long as a) we work hard for it without wrecking the lives of others and b) it acts as a positve driver of philanthropy and voluntary giving.

    It's not just about what you want, but why you want it. If there's something the man upstairs knows that mere mortals do not, it's our true motives for doing something.

    I did someone a good turn this week, which I feel great about. I don't want the world to know about it, since it wasnt about vanity or advertising what a great guy I might be. My motives were pure and God knows it...

    Take it easy fella and keep up the quality writing,

    Daz

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  4. Hi Daz; I've come to the conclusion that no one is ugly, it's just that people today are hyper-judgemental about looks, money, success and the like. We are all unfavourably compared to George Clooney or Brad Pitt, and so on. Anyway, enough about that.

    I find in writing what I have missed for some of my life, which is work. For one reason and several, I have endured unemployment. I envy you because it comes over that you have a decent job and you enjoy it.

    Yes, the compensation culture for the most part is a fetid bag of piss! Money for nothing, and your cheque's for free.

    Material wealth in a sense is neither good or bad; it's what we do with that blessing that makes all the difference-do we spread it around a bit, or do we get like most rich people and hoard it pathologically, spending the rest of our life worrying over who is going to take it off us?

    I think God sees our heart, our motives, before anything else my friend. I'm a Christian because before I was, I was a hopeless case. For some people this isn't so; but for me it certainly was.

    Helping other people is when we really do God's will, in our own small way! What goes around, tends to come around.

    Thanks for the endorsements mate; I am a big fan of your writing and have learned a lot from your honesty and soul-searching; keep up the good work Daz...

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  5. Hi TC

    First up, I'm your typical four-pinter, neither stunningly attractive nor pug ugly. That's most of us, methinks...

    I have a decent job that pays decent money. I enjoy my work and like the people I work with. That was not ever thus and I was lucky to find myself in a position where I was needed and could play hardball over things like money.

    Just gone in for a promotion and had an interview this week, so like I always say, there is nothing virtuous in being broke. Even the salvation army admit that!!

    The compensation culutre is a scumbags charter. A mate of mine told me today how his missus had made an honest mistake at work having worked there for 30 years. Some workshy chav has rocked up smelling pound signs and threatening to sue.

    Horrible stuff - meanwhile, my brother explained to me tonight how job centre staff are being incentivised to take benefits off people and 'trick' them into giving the wrong answers to interview questions.

    That is clearly unfair and plain wrong, no matter what your take might be on welfare as a concept.

    God knows our true motives - that is all.

    My mate is a good guy who realised I'd done him a good turn in good faith. We're very, very differnt, but he's a good guy and has been through a lot, so I did what I could.

    You're a good writer mate, no argument about it.

    Daz

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  6. I am glad you have a decent job Daz, someone should, rather than the usual privately-educated types with plums in their mouths! No, there is not a thing virtuous in being poor; a poor person can be just as grasping and mean as any rich person, in fact sometimes more so.

    Yes, I'm not a big fan of the compo culture, for a number of reasons; it is as you say a scumbags charter for one. Secondly, the higher the social status of the recipient, the more money they seem to receive. Sometimes a slur on an already wealthy famous person can become a lawsuit involving hundred of thousands and even millions of pounds.

    Trying to trick people out of benefits? That sounds like something out of Dickens. What will happen is that the most vulnerable, those uneducated and low-intelligence will fall foul of this. It doesn't sound very Christian does it?

    Well Daz, I am glad you like my writing, one day I hope to earn a living doing it; but I'm under no illusions, it will be a hard slog and a long road; but as the Chinese say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step! We can only move forward if we have a purpose in life.

    Thanks for the comment; much appreciated as ever.

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  7. Thanks Tim - I'll let you know if I get that job or not. The signs are encouraging so far.

    I don't know if there is any correlation between wealth and someone's propensity for compassion and goodwill. I'd suggest not, although a general feeling that 'hey, I already pay a shedload in taxes so why should I pay any more?' contributes to this lack of philanthropy in society as a whole.

    If government delivered nationalised compassion nearly as well as it claimed, there would be no need for private charity. Of course, we know the reality of the situation.

    I understand your point about the compensation culture. Interestingly, nobody in the mainstream media has attached celebrity lawsuits and gagging orders to it as they've focussed on the 'crash for cash via whiplash' and 'fell over at work and won £10,000" phenomena.

    That's what I've heard - that they're asking trick questions to take people's benefit off them. I'm against a large welfare state, but where it exists it should seek to help those most in need. What's being implied here seems to be a deliberate targeting of the most vulnerable.

    There are a lot of people receiving benefit who should simply be paying a lot less in tax, or have the dice loaded in such a way as full-time work gives the greater incentive. Have the conversation and you can win people over. Sneak tactics like this just create the impression of something being done in an underhand way.

    Over and out...

    Daz

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    1. I hope you get the job Daz; good luck!

      Yes, I agree about taxes. But we do hear about very wealthy people and corporations getting away without even paying token amounts. I think that pisses off a lot of people.

      'If government delivered nationalised compassion nearly as well as it claimed, there would be no need for private charity.' Exactly. There has to be a balance in everything and I think our country is out-of-kilter in this, because either people pay too much tax or not enough.

      Work should pay, but if someone decides between welfare and a crappy edad-end low paying job, it's not hard to guess which they'll plump for. That's the problem with rich people in government geeing everybody up to work some crap job whilst they are living the life of Riley; it sucks basically.

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  8. Thanks mate - I just might know by close of play Monday.

    The problem with income tax is that while us PAYE drones have no choice but to pay whay someone decides is 'our share', those with the most money employ creative accountants to play the loopholes.

    I'd love a society where taxes were on consumption, not income - one flat rate that covers everything to prevent the targeting of things like fuel, cigarettes and alcohol, which dispropotionately hit the worst off.

    The richest, and therefore biggest consumers, would pay more. Simple as that.

    The reason no government would dare bring it in is precisely because they need the sway and influence of these people, so give them special treatment. Favours are bought and sold, while you and me pick up the tab.

    'I think our country is out-of-kilter in this, because either people pay too much tax or not enough'. In broad terms, you're right - the average working man gets royally fucked while scroungers at both ends of the spectrum get a cushy ride.

    For me, fairness is letting people keep some of what they earn...

    The deliberate de-skilling of the working individual has had some dire consequences. If ordinary working people acquire enough skill to earn good money then good luck to them.

    Let's be honest though - someone has to work the till or the shop floor and that should pay better than a life on the dole. Take these people out of income tax altogther and load the dice in the right direction.

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    1. What a good comment Daz; I agree with everything you've written. You wrote: 'I'd love a society where taxes were on consumption, not income - one flat rate that covers everything to prevent the targeting of things like fuel, cigarettes and alcohol, which disproportionately hit the worst off.' Absolutely. It would make things fair and proportionate. And don't we all cry out for a little fairness? I know I do.

      You wrote: 'Let's be honest though - someone has to work the till or the shop floor and that should pay better than a life on the dole. Take these people out of income tax altogether and load the dice in the right direction.' Another pearl. Yes, someone has to do menial jobs, most of us ordinary folks have done them, but low paid workers should have the benefit of no-tax or low-tax as an incentive to work low-paid jobs. The problem? The problem is many rich people just do not want to pay tax, and all governments have colluded in this, Left and Right. It is rank hypocrisy, and when one injustice has a blind eye turned to it, it tends to happen that others will follow. The banking crisis we are still in is really because of things like this; we let them get away with it; who next?

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  9. Hi Tim,
    just been reading your conversation with Daz. Hope you don't mind me joining in. Hate to interrupt two men talking( ha ha!) but I found the conversation very interesting and the thing that stood out most to me is the fact that there are rich people in government. That is the problem, they have no idea what it is like to live on an income that many people in this country live on. Without empathy there is often no sympathy.

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  10. I am glad you felt the need to join in Brenda; I enjoy the comments because it means I have written something that has got people thinking, and after all that's the whole purpose of the blog! Thanks!

    I think that all people in government, compared to mostly ordinary people, are rich or become rich for one reason and another, and that wealth cushions them from the harsh realities of life; i.e. being poor basically!

    You wrote: 'Without empathy there is often no sympathy.' Well, that's it in a nutshell. I pray most times that God meets my needs; I don't really need millions to live, just enough. Of course I'd like more money, who wouldn't, but I can get by on just enough. With some people, those at the top, there seems to be an aggressive selfishness that knows no bounds, and that has no conscience about other people, especially those deemed to be poor and at the bottom.

    Incidentally, I noticed now that you've revamped your blog you are getting lots more comments; that's always a good sign.

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  11. A lot of the comments are my own Tim, I love interacting. I am in touch with more people now, some of them might be due to me visiting a site called www.blog-train.net which is a site where various types of blogs are listed, including spiritual ones. I don't know if you have visited it. I also peek into recommended blogs, like your list and other people's lists and if there is an interesting discussion going on I join in, or just leave a comment. I am really enjoying it. Somebody asked me if I could remove the 'please prove you're not a robot' thing because his sight is not good and he has difficulty with it. Do you know how to do that ?

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  12. I might just check that if I have the time Brenda; it sounds very interesting.

    OK; here's what I found out about disabling the comment spambot. 1) Go to the blog page where you normally post new blogs. 2) Click on 'settings' 3) Click on 'comments' underneath 'Settings' and then scroll down to 'Show word verification for comments' and then click on 'no'. Make sure it's right before you do it, but I think that's it.

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  13. Thankyou Tim,
    You are right about wealth cushioning people from the harsh realities of life but do you know something? I think they miss out because their wealth can also prevent them from meeting some very nice people.

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    1. You could be right there Brenda.

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  14. It's certainly true that everyone's normal or 'real world' is different.

    An individual who was a very narrow view of the world, be it rich or poor, is more likely to end up holding unhealthy prejudices based on class, race or whatever.

    The most broad-minded and enlightened people, regardless of such trivia, tend to be those who have not identified themselves in a fixed or narrow way.

    Let's be honest, a working class white person who mixes amongst and only knows their own kind is going to possess no broader a view of things than an Eton graduate who has been wrapped in cotton wool - and vice versa.

    Prejudice and narrow-mindedness are a two way street...

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    1. That's quite an interesting point you made there Daz. It's certain that anyone can be prejudiced and bigoted and anyone can be racist too, regardless of their skin colour or social background.

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  16. It's a good thing God loves us enough to want to save us from all our 'nasties' eh?

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  17. Yes, God's love is bigger than all the hate and anger in the world isn't it.

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